Facebook’s Study on Anti-Conservative Bias Doesn’t Find Evidence of Anti-Conservative Bias

Facebook’s commissioned study on alleged anti-conservative bias failed to find any evidence of anti-conservative bias except for interviews with conservatives who accused the social network of bias.

Facebook hired former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and his team at the law firm Covington and Burling to investigate allegations of anti-conservative bias last year. Kyl said the social network gave his team “total independence,” Axios reported, but the team failed to turn up evidence showing anti-conservative bias.

According to the report, the only change Facebook will make after the release of the study is allowing ads to display medical tubes connected to the human body.

“The medical tube policy makes it easier for pro-life ads focused on survival stories of infants born before full-term to be accepted by Facebook's ad policy,” Axios reported. “Facebook notes that the policy could also benefit other groups who wish to display medical tubes in ads for cancer research, humanitarian relief and elderly care. Facebook will still prohibit these types of ads if the ad shows someone in visible pain or distress or where blood and bruising is visible.”

Kyl says conservative concerns have been addressed:

The bulk of the study focused on interviews with 133 conservative lawmakers and groups. One of the main concerns expressed is that Facebook is “de-prioritizing” conservative view points with their fact-checking process. But Kyl said in his report, despite the concerns, that Facebook included fact-checkers affiliated with conservative publishers.

Conservatives also expressed concerns about whether hate speech policies would affect pro-life and religious groups, but Kyl wrote that Facebook has clarified their policies and provided more transparency into their content moderation process and has launched an appeals process for people to challenge their decisions.

The interviews also expressed concern that Facebook employees who craft the content policies are biased against conservatives. Though the study found no evidence of this, Kyl noted that Facebook has created a content “oversight board” that will include people with diverse backgrounds.

Previous study found no anti-conservative bias:

A 20-week study by the left-wing group Media Matters found that right-leaning pages had nearly identical engagement rates as left-leaning pages on Facebook and actually had higher interactions than left-leaning pages.

“This study’s overall findings on engagement are consistent with two previous Media Matters studies,” the report said. “In our initial 2018 study, Media Matters reviewed political engagement on Facebook between January 1 and July 1, 2018, and found that left-leaning and right-leaning pages on average had virtually the same interaction rate. A follow-up study published earlier this year of engagement between July 2, 2018, and March 17, 2019, also found that right-leaning and left-leaning pages had the same average interaction rate.”


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